On Friday, President Obama announced he would be sending Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Burma on December 1, 2011. This is the first time in 50 years, an U.S. Secretary of State will visit Burma. The U.S. Campaign for Burma welcomes the trip, and urges Secretary Clinton to take advantage of President Thein Sein’s interest in a better relationship with the United States to secure an end to the egregious crimes against humanity the Burmese Army continues to commit against ethnic minority civilians and secure the release of all political prisoners immediately. Will you sign a petition to Secretary Clinton telling her to protect human rights in Burma?
Since Burma’s military regime put on the veneer of civilian government earlier this year, President Thein Sein has shown an interest in engagement with the United States. In an effort to exhibit his interest in a better relationship with the United States, President Thein Sein agreed to a key issue for the United States by meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi once, releasing a small number of political prisoners and amending the political party registration law to allow former political prisoners to be part of a political party and participate in elections.
Unfortunately, President Thein Sein has not changed the Burmese army’s actions against the country’s ethnic minority civilians nor released all political prisoners. In the past seven months there has been a serious uptick in human rights violations committed by the Burmese army, including the largest forced displacement in a decade of over 100,000 new internally displaced persons, renewed armed conflict with 3 separate decades old ethnic ceasefire groups, an increase in the use of rape as a weapon of war, forced labor and the use of human shields.
Also on Friday, Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) announced it has decided to re-register under the regime’s recently amended political party registration law. It is good news that the NLD will be able to conduct their activities legally again, but it does not mean the struggle for democracy is won. According to the regime’s constitution, 25% of the seats in Parliament are still reserved for the military, the military is not under the control of a civilian government, in actuality the commander-in-chief of the military can dismiss the government, and the constitution cannot be amended without the consent of the military. The road to democracy in Burma is a long road that will require your continued support.
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We urge you to sign the petition to Secretary Clinton telling her that on her trip she must prioritize seeking an end to the Burmese regime’s systematic and widespread use of rape as a weapon of war, forced labor, forced relocation, torture, extrajudicial killings, child soldiers and use of human shields and the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.